Anchor of the Universe
Verdan, “the anchor of the universe.” So named because in times past it served as the cultural hub of the tumultuous Free Lands, ushering in the dawn of civilization, standing as a symbol of freedom amid the waves of war, surviving the leadership of fickle tyrants, and most recently the birth of a new age—the age of chivalry, reason, and technology. But Verdan has another, more obvious feature about it that earns its nickname: four floating islands of earth, each pointing to a different corner of the world, held by massive chains that anchor into the very streets of the city. No one knows their purpose or their origin. There are as many rumors about them as there are people, but they have drawn such veneration as to be thought divine.
This idea has spurred on rulers to defend Verdan with such tenacity that it has survived as the world’s oldest city; has spawned countless religions, from radical to liberal alike; has attracted pilfering treasure-seekers, curious scientists, daring explorers, and earnest pilgrims from across the globe.
There is truly no other city in the world like Verdan. In one city you can find people of every race, tribe, religion, and social class imaginable. Sophisticated metropolitan areas turn onto seedy ghettos, and again turn into rolling green hills and then monumental granite mountains. And always the sky is a pure blue with billowing clouds, playfully gracing the mountain tops and the floating islands.
When Verdan, compelled once again by the need to defend itself from invaders, fell into a shortage of men to send to war, in desperation it turned to any answer to deliver them. The savages from the east, with their strange gods and powerful magic, tore through Verdan defenses like it had never seen before. Until one day, through the hazy morning mist, marched from the great city a legion of gray hulking figures. These were golems created of man, gnome, dwarf, and elvish design. Mechanical beings brought to an artificial life by the arcane, these warforged fought off the eastern savages, saved the venerable city, and single-handedly marshaled the age of technology.
Its territory more firmly defended, thanks to development of a warforged military, Verdan’s attackers are of a more subtle, and arguably more dangerous, ilk. As the science arts movement gains momentum, a counter revolution has returned terror into the hearts of the Verdan citizenry. The Gaima, Verdan’s state religious sect, have seen fit, through Cardinal Neilos’ blessing, to wage war against blatantly pro-science groups and individuals for “blaspheming the divine unknown.” The Gaima have jurisdiction over religious matters—the city’s “second law”—and seek to return the citizenry to an honorable worship and respect for the divinity of the unknown god that created the floating islands.